Europe & Britain | People & Stories

I took my first overseas trip aged 65 and I've never looked back

It’s never too late to scratch that travel itch and take your first overseas trip – just ask Trafalgar guests Tony and Valda. The retired couple from Far North Queensland, Australia, embarked on their first adventure aged 65 and 62, respectively, and haven’t looked back. 

Together they’ve toured through Italy, Ireland, England, USA and the South Pacific, proving it is never too late to get out there and see the world. Let’s hear in Tony’s words what it’s been like to start travelling overseas after retirement and why “you won’t regret it”.

Tell us about your first overseas trip!

Our first trip overseas was Costsaver’s European Cavalcade in 2009. At the time we were 65 and 62 and there were two memorable highlights. The first highlight was when my wife, Valda, met her childhood penfriend in Paris. The two friends had been corresponding for over 50 years, but had never met!

The second highlight was the Italy part of the tour and learning about the rich history of the country. Both Valda and I have Italian Heritage – myself on my grandfather’s side and Valda via three of her grandparents.

What prompted you to take this first trip later in life? Was it something you had been putting off?

Three of our children had grown up and left home. Only our youngest son Steven, who was 17 at the time, was living with us.

During the 2008 financial crisis I lost a lot of money from my retirement fund so we decided to cash the remainder in and take a holiday. We had not been on a holiday – other than a trip to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland – since we were married in 1970.

GET INSPIRED BY: Britain & Ireland Panorama

How many trips have you taken since this trip? 

When I retired in early 2012 we decided to take back-to-back Trafalgar and Costsaver tours. We started with the Britain & Ireland Experience, and then hopped on the Splendours of Italy trip.

The Britain tour was fantastic and our favourite country we visited was Ireland. We loved the diversity and wonderful travelling companions, as well as our great Travel Director and driver.

For a break between tours we flew from London to Limoges in France to spend four nights with Valda’s childhood penfriend, Rosemary, and her husband, Jean-Louis.

We then flew to Lyon for a one-night stay before reaching Rome via Zurich to start our amazing Italy tour. There were so many highlights of this tour – from visiting Pompeii to the Isle of Capri and Venice. The drive along the Amalfi Coast is a must-do. We loved the Florentine dinner at Fattoria Il Poggio. It was a magnificent meal with locally produced wine. The highlight was dancing in the courtyard with all our group.

Tony's first overseas trip

What advice would you give someone looking at travelling for the first time aged 65+?

Don’t hesitate when you are healthy and able to afford a Trafalgar Tour. Go for it! You will never regret it and you will catch the travel bug.

Since our first Trafalgar trips the travel bug has taken us to New Zealand, cruising the South Pacific, the West Coast of America and Texas.

RELATED BLOG: ‘I’m 63, single and love to travel solo’ Meet Trafalgar guest, Jeannette

Why is your wife Valda the best travel companion?

Valda is just as passionate as myself when it comes to travel. We share the same love of learning about and appreciating a country’s culture. It is also great to get away from normal day life and enjoy ourselves.

Do you have a favourite memory from being on tour together?

Seeing the joy on both Valda and Rosemary’s faces when they met for the first time after more than 50 years of being penfriends was magic.

And of course visiting Italy, the country of our ancestors, was amazing. Most Italians are very friendly and it was amazing to visit places that we have only read about or seen on TV. My Italian is non-existent, but Valda has a basic understanding of the language, and that helped a lot. 

Tony's first overseas trip

What types of activities do you like to do together while travelling? 

When on a Costsaver tour we like to take as many of the Optional Experiences as possible. This way you see parts of a country you would not be able to see by yourself.

We both like to try new local foods, explore museums and admire the local architecture. We always take thousands of photos and relive the memories while editing them back home.

RELATED BLOG: Meet Monica & Rosaria: How travelling with your mum can bring you closer

What destinations do you dream of travelling to together next?

In May 2020 we had Trafalgar’s Spectacular Canadian Rockies booked followed by a seven-night Alaskan Cruise. But, of course, Covid raised its ugly head.

My dream tour would be Trafalgar’s Grand Italian Experience. Think 17 glorious days of travelling around the country we both love so dearly. A man can dream, can’t he?

GET INSPIRED BY: Grand Italian Experience 

Why do you choose Trafalgar for your trips?

We choose Trafalgar for our trips as they offer such a variety of choices of tours for both ends of the market, with Costsaver being the more affordable option.

Your Travel Director is very knowledgeable of the country you are visiting and is very helpful. The hotels on a tour have been carefully investigated and breakfast is included on all days, which saves you the hassle of finding it yourself.

Tony's first overseas trip

Any tips for other people who are thinking of taking their first overseas trip later in life?

When on a tour make friends with your fellow travellers. You will make lifetime friends even if they are from a different country to yours. Even after more than 13 years we keep in touch [with other guests].

From our 2012 tours we keep in touch via Facebook and email with four couples from the USA, two from Canada, two from New Zealand and one from South Australia.

Do you wish you had started travelling earlier?

Of course we do, but raising a young family ranging in age from 21 to a baby made it hard. At the time we really couldn’t afford it while raising children.

Anything else you’d like to add about travelling for the first time?

If you are healthy and able to afford to travel, contact your Travel Agent and request they look at a Trafalgar tour for you. You won’t regret it!

Tell us your travel stories! Did you start travelling overseas later in life like Tony and Valda? Leave us a comment and tell us about your favourite trips….

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